Speaking of finishing things, I just finished playing Jade Empire, Bioware's latest epic RPG. It's very good, albeit not great.

The RPG gameplay is the same as Knights of the Old Republic and other Bioware games: multiple choice dialogue, a party of characters you interact with, and choices between good and evil. The big gameplay innovation is the real-time combat system, an entertaining action combat thing like Prince of Persia or Ninja Gaiden. It mostly works, although it is awfully simple.

The best thing about the game is that it's set in a faux Ancient China. The æsthetic is well done, very beautiful, and refreshingly different than the usual RPG fare. I particularly liked the way Chinese philosophy linked into the story, very different from the usual chivalry-tinged stuff.

The other thing that worked well was the NPC characterization. In previous games I never really cared much about the rest of my party, I think because I didn't find their backstories interesting. But in Jade Empire I found them quite compelling, particularly Sky, the man driven to avenge the daughter captured by slavers. Despite the conversation trees being very simple (and nothing approaching KotOR2's influence system), the NPC interaction was good. The romance plots are well worked too, including various alternative options.

I've had enough of Bioware-style RPGs for awhile.

  2005-05-28 02:43 Z